Leading New Zealand Actor Takes on Literary Icon

Published: Fri 15 Dec 2006 04:35 PM
Leading New Zealand Actor Takes on Literary Icon

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The Case of Katherine Mansfield
By Catherine Downes Starring Danielle Cormack
From the journals, letters and stories of Katherine Mansfield
Downstage Theatre
Mon-Thu 6.30pm, Fri & Sat 8pm
Bookings: 04 801 6946 or
Leading New Zealand Actor Takes on Literary Icon
Who better to play New Zealand’s most celebrated, enigmatic and controversial writer than one of our most respected actors? In a fabulous start to the New Year DANIELLE CORMACK will take to Downstage alone, to explore the dynamic world of Katherine Mansfield.
Every word spoken is Mansfield’s own. We meet her on her return to home soil at eighteen years old, we share her frustration with the parochialism of early New Zealand, the anxiety and bohemian elation of her first years back in London, the frustrations of her first marriage, the devastating death of her brother, a second chance at love, onset of tuberculosis and above all her passion for writing, which was to be the sustaining force of her too short life.
Wellington’s own CATHERINE DOWNES wrote and performed seasons of The Case Of Katherine Mansfield to unanimous acclaim in England, Scotland, The Netherlands, America, Australia and New Zealand throughout the late seventies right up until the early nineties. Downes was awarded the Festival Times Award and the Scotsman Omnibus Award at the 1979 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Best Radio Play ABC Australia in 1981 and was nominated for a PYE Award for Best Radio Play BBC World Service.
Appearances in kiwi soap operas have led DANIELLE CORMACK to become a household name, but Cormack chose to leave behind the security of an ongoing role, delving into theatre and film instead. Drawn to acting parts that contrast with previous work, Cormack likes the challenge of breaking new ground professionally, and she continues to show considerable range in her chosen roles.
“The thing about Katherine Mansfield – and what she is most notorious for – is the way that she lived her life, which is incredibly modern”, says Cormack. “And for that alone, I really admire her. I really don’t believe she was a lesbian and I really don’t believe that she was a heterosexual. In fact, I think of her as a sexual being, and to employ or adopt any of these sexual terms or constraints seems completely redundant.”
“Risk, risk everything. Care not for what people say, for fear breeds failure” (Katherine Mansfield) and that’s so true. She’s left an interesting legacy of going against the grain, of living on the edge, of really experiencing life. There seemed to be a co-dependency between the way she lived her life and her writing. Without her writing, she couldn’t live, but without the way that she lived her life, she couldn’t write.
Directed by KATIE WOLFE, whose production of The Women won Wolfe a Chapman Tripp Award in 2005, envisages this version of Mansfield to focus on Mansfield’s shifting mood and nuance. “Katherine Mansfield was a woman far ahead of her time who you have to admire for her bravery, independent spirit and determination to follow her own instincts and pursue her ambitions. Sudden anger, self-deprecating humour, an acute eye for irony and the ridiculous, the joy and fear of living, the pose and the twinkle – the intimacy offered will be irresistible”.
‘Catherine Downes' finely crafted assemblage of Mansfield writing creates a picture as radiant and mysterious as her subject.’ NZ Herald
‘A virtuoso tour- de- force’ Time Out magazine, London
‘The Case of Katherine Mansfield has wit and charm enough to score even where its subject may be unknown’ Variety Magazine: USA
‘A powerfully executed work of Art.’ The Listener
‘Downes has held on to Mansfield’s rich language, weaving in readings from three of her best-known short stories—Prelude, Bliss, and The Doll’s House—which, like a born storyteller, Cormack brings to life in entrancing animation’
Katie Wolfe
Danielle Cormack
Rachael Walker
Jane Hakaraia
Jason Smith
Performance Times
Mon - Thu 6.30pm
Fri & Sat 8pm
$20 Public Preview Wed 17 Jan
FREE Post Show Talkback Wed 17 Jan
Matinee Sat 27 Jan 2pm

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